ANALYSIS: Professor criticizes debate without looking into views of debaters
A historian at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is opposed to an upcoming debate about climate change, which he calls a “crisis.” However, his comments indicate that he did not research the presenters and that they likely agree with him about possible policy solutions.
“There is absolute scientific evidence and policy-making certainty that climate change is a crisis,” Professor Jim Feldman said. “The climate is changing because of human activity and it’s going to be bad. It’s going to cause dramatic dislocations for people around the world and potentially in Oshkosh.”
Feldman has three degrees in history according to his curriculum vitae. In contrast, one of the presenters holds two science degrees.
The April 26 event is sponsored by the UW Oshkosh Foundation Freedom of expression fund and will feature conservative writer Robert Bryce and Steve Nieland, an energy consultant. The event is titled “Climate Change: Crisis or Not? What is the solution?” according to The Advance Titan, the campus newspaper.
“If what they’re saying is we cannot scale renewable energy fast enough and we need to use nuclear energy instead, that’s the range of divergent political and policy events that is really appropriate to debate; it’s the title of the panel that I’m concerned about,” he said.
But those views appear to be what each presenter will argue.
The scalability of renewable energy and the benefits of nuclear power are actually subjects Bryce has researched and written about – in 2020 he published a book on this very topic. Nieland has presented on how to adapt the energy grid to climate change and consults on renewable alternatives.
He also “holds degrees in electronics and chemistry as well as having additional studies in paper science, computer science and electrical engineering,” according to his bio.
Feldman said that there “simply isn’t” room to debate his position that “climate change is a crisis.”
“I’m open to a huge range of perspectives, but there simply isn’t debate about whether climate change is a crisis or not,” Feldman told the student newspaper. “The title of the panel implies that there’s debate. That perpetuates the politically motivated idea that climate change is not a problem. There are political beliefs that are less likely to be supported on campus and this should be one of them.”
He is worried the debate “seems to undermine the work we’re doing on sustainability.” However, he also told the newspaper that he is not sure what will be said. But he is opposed.
“I don’t know what they’re going to say at the panel,” he said. “I’m trying not to jump to conclusions that I necessarily disagree with everything.”
He encouraged students to “go and ask good, respectful questions.”
IMAGE: University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh